CTSI provides seed money for toilet training prototype

Every day, the CTSI helps research teams work faster and better. In this new series, “CTSI Success Stories,” we’ll allow researchers to share their own experiences working with the CTSI. 

Below, Dan Mruzek, Ph.D., discusses how the CTSI helped his team build effective toilet training devices for children with autism:

Dan Mruzek, Ph.D.

Dan Mruzek, Ph.D.

The CTSI has been a tremendous help to our efforts in researching an effective, efficient means of toilet training children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other individuals using an electronic moisture pager device.

In our earliest stage of investigation, we had only a bed-wetting alarm that we bought off an internet site. We used this to train a student with very severe disabilities to use the toilet in the context of a special education classroom. Following this, we were picked up as a “project” for a Biomedical Engineering senior design group. They delivered an early prototype that was useful in our next-step conceptualizations, but not one that could be used in well-controlled research.

It was the CTSI pilot grant* that gave us the “seed money” to develop a usable prototype, which gave us an opportunity to develop an early manualized intervention and pilot it in a local school with students with developmental disabilities. Through this process, we came in contract with colleagues at Innovocracy, who helped us with some additional funds to help with further development of the technology. The Autism Treatment Network (ATN) subsequently awarded us with a sizable grant for a pilot multi-site randomized controlled trial. We are just completing this trial now and have been invited to apply for another grant by the ATN.

So, as you can see, the CTSI played a critical role in getting this project off the ground. We currently have an R40 application pending for an multi-site RCT in the school setting, and, of course, the aforementioned ATN grant proposal. By the way, through a voucher**, my team is getting superb biostatistical consultation from Anthony Almudevar for current grant preparation. Much appreciated!


*The CTSI Pilot Program offers grants of up to $50,000 for researchers to generate preliminary clinical data, test new technologies, and more.
**The CTSI provides financial assistance to researchers to fund expert consultation services in support of project planning and operation. If a consultation service charges a fee that you have no funds to pay, you can ask the CTSI to help pay the bill!

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